Agropolis Resource Center for Crop Conservation, Adaptation and Diversity

Over 10,000 years ago, our ancestors began domesticating wild plants to create crops capable of producing a more regular, predictable source of food. Taking advantage of existing plant biodiversity, they selected useful plant characteristics, such as disease and drought resistance, as well as grain or fruit traits. Crop biodiversity is vital to our societies. But the effects that humans and nature exert on crops can have unintended consequences for their biodiversity. And without sufficient biodiversity, crops are unable to adapt or be adapted by farmers and breeders to environmental or climate changes, hence putting the world’s food supply at risk. It is therefore important to conserve crop biodiversity today and ensure it is sustainable by examining it at every level ― from genes to populations ― to understand how domesticated plants have adapted to human and environmental pressures over time.

ARCAD aims to be an innovative open multi-function (biological, technological, scientific, educational) resource center for agrobiodiversity in Montpellier, France, which is home to many of the world’s leading research teams specializing in plant biotechnology, evolutionary biology, crop genomics and genetic resources in Mediterranean and African regions... ARCAD has three main complementary and interdependent components: research and training, genetic resource collections and technological platforms.

Supported by Agropolis Fondation, the Région Languedoc-Roussillon (France), and the European Regional , it is being jointly developed by CIRAD, INRA, IRD and Montpellier SupAgro, which are four French leading agricultural science establishments Development Fund. ARCAD is working in close partnership with Universities, Biological resource centers, research organization from various country and international centers.

A research and formation program on plant domestication and adaptation.
This component focuses on the harmonization, consolidation and animation of regional scientific community to develop ambitious research work on plant genetics and genomics. ARCAD’s primary scientific work focuses on the relationship between crop biodiversity, crop domestication and adaptation to agricultural environments. By studying the history and patterns of crop domestication and adaptation, it shows how genes, genomes and populations of cultivated plants have been shaped by centuries of farming as well as environmental and societal changes. ARCAD’s research examine urgent questions, such as those pertaining to crop adaptation to climate change and management of crop biodiversity by farmers in various farming systems in the Southern hemisphere. Its scientific endeavors will be conducted in collaboration with other international research teams. The knowledge and methods developed will be deployed across specific training modules, international training courses and participation to the existing courses provided by different universities in Montpellier.

An open and innovative platform for conservation and analysis of Mediterranean and tropical vegetal resources.
This component focuses on the acquisition, the development and the connection of technological platforms and biological resources, to increase the efficiency and attractiveness of research work for conservation and analysis of genetic resources. It is based on the reinforcement or creation of new platforms equipped with up to date technologies for seed conservation, seed phenotyping, cryopreservation, DNA extraction and banking, genotyping/sequencing as well as systems and web portal to access information on collections. A new building will host these platforms by the end of 2017.

ARCAD resources will serve agricultural research as well as local and national companies interested by the exploration and utilization of biodiversity. ARCAD is expected not only to contribute to reinforcing local expertise but also to facilitating knowledge sharing on agrobiodiversity.

  • Project Number
  • Call for project
  • Start date :
    1 October 2009
  • Closing date :
    30 June 2014
  • Flagship project :
  • Responsable
    Jean-Louis Pham
  • Research units in the network
Scientific partners: